After two years without competing on the gridiron, the Bowdoin football team will feature three new coaches alongside two new classes of players during their upcoming season. Mike Deitrick, Ahmaad Smith and Dave Aoyagi were hired earlier this month to coach running backs, cornerbacks and safeties, respectively. The three new coaches come from a range of backgrounds, and each will bring unique perspectives and experience to the team.
Aoyagi is joining Bowdoin from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. He has experience coaching football at both high school and collegiate levels. Having worked on the West Coast in states such as Hawaii, Arizona and Utah, Aoyagi attributes his decision to join the Bowdoin football program as a safeties coach to Head Coach B.J. Hammer.
“I met Coach Hammer when he was recruiting at some of the schools that I worked at, and some of the high schools and several of my players played for him,” Aoyagi said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “We established a relationship, and a chance to work with him is why I’m [at Bowdoin].”
Aoyagi said he hopes to bring energy to the team and help continue establishing the strong foundations that he believes Hammer and the other coaches have already been working on.
“I think they’re on the right track and working the right way,” Aoyagi said. “We do a lot as coaches, but winning football games and all that is not the end all be all. We are in it to help these guys and develop them as men, students and student athletes.”
Aoyagi also brings a unique perspective as a former high school teacher and coach.
“I knew how [Aoyagi] was as a teacher, and I liked that factor in him,” Hammer said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “As a college coach, we are not teaching classes …like a lot of high school coaches are, so they’ve really got to manage their time wisely. Time management’s huge as a coach, as it is as a student-athlete.”
Mike Deitrick, who comes from Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania and is joining Bowdoin as an offensive line coach, has game experience in playing football at Clarion University, a Division II school. He has also coached at Allegheny College—where he met and worked with Hammer—and at Duquesne University, a Division I school.
Deitrick said that his experience in different college divisions and football programs will help bring a new perspective to the team.
“I’ve had the chance to work with Division I programs and also have been around different Division III programs,” Deitrick said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I think a different level of perspective is something that I’m going to be able to bring to these guys.”
The third incoming coach, Ahmaad Smith, most recently worked at Tennessee State University. Smith also played football and basketball at Tennessee State and later spent five years playing in the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League.
Smith brings a wealth of experience to the football program. He was a runner-up for AFCA Division III Assistant Coach of the Year, as well as the recipient of the Bill Walsh Internship Program, which allowed him to work with the Tennessee Titans in 2015 and the Minnesota Vikings in 2017.
Smith was not available for comment.
When recruiting these coaches over Zoom, Hammer looked first at their position of specialty, and then at their leadership qualities. Hammer noted that he prioritized bringing coaches from diverse backgrounds into the program.
“Like anything, we are looking for anyone that can impact our program outside of just the coaching world,” Hammer said. “We are looking for guys … that just haven’t been here in the NESCAC or New England specifically … [The new coaches] are going to learn our process here at Bowdoin and they are in the middle of doing that right now and we have a great system for that. I think that’s what excites me the most—getting a full reboot here, full start. The majority of the staff are guys I’ve hired now, and I think that’s great and will help us move forward.”